WHAT IS AYAHUASCA USED FOR?
Ayahuasca was until recently an obscure drug that no one was familiar with, except indigenous tribes. Nowadays, that has changed. You too will undoubtedly know someone who has done 'Aya'. Or maybe you have attended a ceremony yourself, in the jungle of Peru or just in our little country. But what is Ayahuasca actually used for? Could you benefit from a ceremony with this potent psychedelic brew?
What is Ayahuasca?
The origins of Ayahuasca can be found in the Amazon jungle. Here, indigenous people discovered the power of this brew centuries ago and developed the recipe. One takes: leaves that contain the trip drug DMT, to which you add a natural MAO inhibitor. This together creates a drink that can keep you tripping intensely for hours.
The effects are not to be missed: visuals, spiritual or life-changing insights, contact with the supernatural, euphoria and even ego death are among the possibilities. These are the short-term effects. In the long term, Ayahuasca can have even more benefits. For instance, people regularly experience that they have processed certain traumas. Many users also report experiencing life differently. For example, they are more in touch with their spiritual side or appreciate nature much more.
Ayahuasca is mainly used in ceremonies, guided by a shaman who has the necessary experience. Indeed, ayahuasca is considered one of the strongest trip aids. Moreover, it has a rich cultural history and is usually simply not considered a recreational drug. This is also reflected in its name: 'aya' means 'soul', 'ancestors' or 'deceased people', 'wasca' means vine. Not entirely coincidentally, one of the ingredients in this brew.
What was and is Ayahuasca used for?
Traditionally, indigenous people used (and still use) Ayahuasca in ceremonial settings for various purposes. Usually, the intention is to heal the user or the trip has a spiritual mission. But it can also be used for social issues. In the West, Ayahuasca has become more popular since about 20 years. But even with 'us' it is used almost exclusively in ceremonies, including shaman and certain rituals. Here are the main reasons why people use Ayahuasca.
Spiritual experience and connection with the universe
Probably 100% of people who use Ayahuasca will describe it as an ultimate spiritual experience. Even if your approach is entirely recreational, and you embark on a trip with that intention: Mother Aya is guaranteed to show you all kinds of things... This is the main reason why people all over the world use Ayahuasca: making contact with the supernatural, getting answers to life's questions from normally invisible sources, or being taught life lessons and insights. You can enter an Ayahuasca ceremony with a certain intention. But a trip is hard to control, no matter how much you want to stay in control. Something you should definitely make yourself aware of before embarking on Ayahuasca.
Healing trauma and psyche
Ayahuasca has been used as a psychic healer in the past and certainly now. For post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for example. Several strong studies show that just one dose can have a noticeable positive impact on people struggling with depression.
Indigenous users also see Ayahuasca as a healing agent. That it has the potential to heal mental issues is obvious. But research shows that Ayahuasca actually has therapeutic potential on more fronts than just psychological. The good stuff triggers all kinds of bodily processes and thus protects in 'degenerative diseases' such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Whether it can also be used for existing conditions and complaints, future research will have to show.
Several addiction clinics use Ayahuasca in their treatments. Research into the effects of Ayahuasca on people with addiction problems is still in its infancy. Especially regarding its long-term effects, new, long-term studies will have to show how this brew can support people in being able to stay away from drugs and other addictions. A 2014 Canadian study already offers hope: among other things, it found that problematic cocaine use decreased, as did use of alcohol and tobacco. People also felt more hopeful about the future and more powerful.
As you read, this is not a trip drug to be treated casually. Respect the traditions surrounding Ayahuasca and use it responsibly. Do you struggle with psychological, physical or social issues? Then visit your doctor or other professionals first and see Ayahuasca as a supplement, not as the solution.